Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Post-Carl Dolan

Route 1 Velo / Arrow Bicycle pulled a 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th in the 3/4 race on Sunday.

One side of me reads that and says that we did pretty well placing four guys in the top 10. The "process improvement" side of me looks at it and sees a problem and is trying to come up with solutions for solving it.

Steven Wahl was the strongest on the day and earned the win. The timing of his jump was good and the fitness he has right now is spot on. Well done. Now, saying that, let's figure out how to never let that happen again.

Our strategy really is no secret. Put our sprinter in the best position to win at the end of the race. Nobody was getting away in this race, and we knew that going into it. If anybody had tried, we were going to go with them and "bring them back" to the group...boring tactics, but effective. With the numbers we had, and the constantly improving "train", we'd have as good if not better chance of sticking it in the end than the other teams in the race. I was itching to put a couple of digs in during the race, but the plan was to just sit in the top 10 and let everyone else pull us around till about 5 to go, we would group up, go to the front, kill it on the last lap and send Brandon off for the win...simple, right?

I think this is where it broke down a little. With one to go, I was sitting pretty in 4th position while NCVC pulled us toward the "turn", the pace was good, but not break-neck speed. Brandon was on my wheel but we were too far out to really put in the final pull from the turn to the finishing hill. It would have been Tyson's corner all over again where I dropped Brandon off too far from the line for him to hold his speed. I wanted to get him to about 100 meters to go and then let him unleash the sprint. We got to the base of the hill and I jumped..unfortunately for us, I think Steven was carrying more speed than us (pace up front slowed) and his momentum carried him up the hill quicker and to the line before us.

Thinking back on this, I should have been on the front pushing the pace in the upper 35 to 40+ mph range coming off the turn and had it single file coming into the finishing hill. The more strung out it was, the less likely someone stronger would have been able to make up the difference and then had something left to come around at the end. The pace was too slow coming off the turn and we were "bunched" up a bit. Live and learn. A course like this needed the "train" all together, on the front, dictating pace. Relying on the other teams to keep the pace high is too risky. I know this will bother me for a couple of days...but it'll pass.

I like 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th. But I would have liked 1st, 25th, 36th, and 49th more.

Of all the ABRT guys I'm glad Steven got the win. Can you imagine if Lance got it?? I get nauseous just thinking about it. ;)


Friday, April 17, 2009

Pre-Carl Dolan

Gam Jams

"...A well drilled lead out train on the final climb can limit the number of riders in contention when the actual sprint starts with 200 meters to go. If you have a big team in the race, then be ready to set the pace and keep the tempo super high in the last lap..."

I'm not much into signs, but...I'm just saying. ;)

See you fools on Sunday. Hopefully we'll be waiting for you at the finish. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Have you really suffered on the bike?

I'd like to think I have, but how do you know? Get dropped from the break away but still have enough in the tank to leadout the sprint?? Seems wrong right? Looking back, I'd imagine that someone who gave it all would have been swept up by the main group and spit out the back as fast as they were caught...next time, I'm bringing my pain face to the race and making sure that there is nothing left at the end of the day. It's freaking Wednesday and I'm still thinking about what went wrong....sheesh. Psycho.


I got dropped...

I love when the pictures start coming out the week after a full weekend of racing. Thank you everyone who goes to the races and takes these shots. I love reliving the suffering.

Here is a three picture progression of me trying to cover up after getting dropped from the Walkersville 1/2/3 on lap 7. Notice how I notice the camera and then try to cover my face:

Thanks to Susan for these.

Here is the one from Tysons after we got dropped from the 5 man break.

Thanks to Jim for this one.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Déjà vu

So of course I'm still thinking about Sunday. The more I thought about it, the more I kept thinking I had been in this position before. So I started looking back through some old posts and I found it:

Ann Arbor Criterium

It was my post from the Ann Arbor Criterium I did last September. You don't have to read it, but I'll paraphrase here:

We ended up dropping one of the guys and me and a guy from Michigan built our lead to about 17 seconds....The guy I was with was the strongest guy in the race (eventual winner) and I was dying trying to recover and hold his wheel....I made a decision that I'm regretting now, but race and learn...I made the call to sit up...Looking back I wonder if I just wussed out when I went back to the field and that if I had just put the head down and gutted it out, maybe payday would have been a little sweeter... I kept thinking to myself, wondering, "could I have suffered through the pain and recovered on his wheel?"

Damn, eh? I could copy that word for word and it would be applicable for what went down yesterday. There was one point when there was about a 3 second gap between the two that rode off from Steven (ABRT) and I where I now think I should have tried to make that last move to try to get across and just suck wheels for the rest of the race. If I had made it across, and that is a big IF, maybe I could have recovered for a lap or two and then had something....I guess you forget how beat you were the next day, right? I don't think I could have, but I always wonder if it was mental weakness at that point in time. A little more training and a little more suffering and we'll see how the rest of the season goes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Walkersville & Tysons Weekend

I got a lot of effort in with not much to show for it except for some experience that will hopefully help down the road.

Walkersville 1/2/3:
I had no idea what to expect in this race, but I was going into it with the idea of trying to hold my own against some of the areas best and see how I stacked up at this time in the year. The race started pretty quick and I was fortunate to make the main group that was chasing a lead group up the road. I mainly stayed out of the wind and towards the front of our group for 6 laps while ABRT, Vaughn, and NCVC did a pretty cool job of pulling back the break. On the 7th lap, we caught the break and the pace picked up quite a bit. I had a mental lapse and started slipping towards the back and was in the wrong place (trying to catch a draft of Jared Neiters in the gutter (during the period that he called "...the hardest point of the race..." and just didn't have the fitness to hold on. It was a weird sensation. At one second right before I was feeling fine and thinking that I was going to be able to finish and the second, I was off the back wondering what went wrong...so is bike racing I guess. DNF for the books.

Lessons learned:
1. Stay towards the front of a road race early, especially when it is windy.
2. If your in a chase group that does catch a break, move up quickly because the counter and the up in speed is guaranteed and you don't want to be off the back when it does.

Tysons 3:
Tysons isn't a race that I'm totally fond of. The hill takes a lot out of me over the course of an hours race. Maybe lack of fitness, maybe the huge carcass I'm carrying around, or just maybe something else...who knows. Also, the downhill makes breaks hard to stick as the pack can really carry a lot of speed if it wants to. I felt pretty good going into the race. I got in an early move that seemed to stay away for most of the race. There were two guys who were definitely stronger than the rest of us in the break and they were barking orders the whole way for the 3 of us (who weren't as strong) to pull through. Problem was that they were setting a pace on the uphill that left the us in oxygen debt by the time we got to the top and worthless on the backside. I told the guys that they had two options: Ride away from us and try to go at it alone or slow the f#@# down on the uphill so that we could be of some help on the backside. If I was in there shoes I would have ridden away from us...which they agreed with and did. One guy stuck it and hopefully he puts in for his upgrade because that mofo was as strong as an ox and isn't going to be challenged in the 3's. Once the pack caught us I was hoping that my team would be relatively fresh since they probably wouldn't have been doing much work trying to chase down the break. I found Brandon and we made the silent agreement that I would lead him out going into the final turn. Joel strung it out going down the backstretch and right before the final turn we were sitting 5th and 6th. There was a lull, so I took us through the turn 1 & 2 and started the sprint. Problem is that it is a looooong way to the finish to be going from the turn. I was good for maybe 200 meters and guys started coming around slowly. Brandon saw that and he jumped from my wheel to the line. I hadn't taken us far enough (nor could I) and he got swallowed up before the line...probably top 10 or 20, not sure. We'll have to wait for the results to see for sure. I rolled in with what was left of the non-sprinters. Finished somewhere between 20 and 30th...maybe.

Lesson's learned:
1. If you're in a break with 5 guys and there are two who are obviously stronger and WILL win the sprint if it comes down to a sprint, stop working so hard and sit in. Either you get pulled around and are fresher for the finish, or the pack comes back and you get your team to take a shot at the finish (better odds).
2. Don't sprint from the turn at Tysons.
3. A leadout at tysons needs at minimum 3 guys (2+ a sprinter) to work successfully (at the 3 level).

Tough weekend of racing and some good hard miles are in the bank. Just wished there were some better results to show for it. At least I got some inspiration for training...